Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Labour Crumbles In Face Of 'Call In'

Opposition groups are celebrating victory over Reading's dominant Labour group after a decision to impose big increases on car park charges was overturned without a fight.

The move came under heavy criticism from Conservative and LibDem groups who felt it was being pushed through without adequate consideration or consultation.

Labour deputy leader and transport spokesperson Cllr Tony Page apologised for abusing the political process by seeking to impose changes against normal protocols.

Conservative transport spokesperson Cllr Willis is somewhat triumphalist in his attempt to claim credit for the U-Turn, but notes how the rises in car park costs is a result of a recently-agreed 15-year deal between RBC and car park operator NCP which guaranteed council income rises in line with inflation (which is soaring according to John Redwood).

However LibDem transport spokesperson Cllr Duveen picks up that the plans have not been stopped in their tracks, only watered-down as they will be subjected to the correct processes of public consultation.

Both sides argue the case shows the Labour party to be in decline both locally as well as nationally, providing more reasouns to vote them 'out' of power - Cllr Willis says they are 'clapped out', while Cllr Duveen says Labour are 'out of touch'.

In a separate area Redland LibDems note another revenue raising initiative has hit the buffers as a plan to charge council tenants for communal lighting and cleaning services on top of current rent increases.

Cllr Benson responded to complaints that some of the borough's poorest and most vulnerable residents were only given a month over the holiday period to respond to detailed documents. It seems very few are happy about the quality of the current service and even fewer about the prospect of being targetted to plug the gap in the budget which has grown from ban management.


Oranjepan says:
With budget planning fully underway in preparation for the year ahead a major battle over the narrative of cuts and spending is already being fought. Labour has lost round one.

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Update: Adam Hewitt provides details of a range of funding cuts made by the borough to voluntary services.

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More on Reading Budget 2010/11

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